The type I membrane protein EFF-1 is essential for developmental cell fusion

Dev Cell. 2002 Mar;2(3):355-62. doi: 10.1016/s1534-5807(02)00129-6.


Multinucleate cells are widespread in nature, yet the mechanism by which cells fuse their plasma membranes is poorly understood. To identify animal fusogens, we performed new screens for mutations that abolish cell fusion within tissues of C. elegans throughout development. We identified the gene eff-1, which is expressed as cells acquire fusion competence and encodes a novel integral membrane protein. EFF-1 sequence motifs suggest physicochemical actions that could cause adjacent bilayers to fuse. Mutations in the extracellular domain of EFF-1 completely block epithelial cell membrane fusion without affecting other perfusion events such as cell generation, patterning, differentiation, and adhesion. Thus, EFF-1 is a key component in the mechanism of cell fusion, a process essential to normal animal development.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Genetically Modified
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / growth & development
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / physiology*
  • Cell Fusion*
  • Epidermal Cells
  • Epidermis / growth & development
  • Epithelial Cells / cytology
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Glycoproteins / genetics
  • Glycoproteins / metabolism
  • Helminth Proteins / genetics
  • Helminth Proteins / metabolism*
  • Membrane Fusion / physiology*
  • Membrane Proteins / genetics
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mutation / physiology
  • Phenotype
  • Vulva / cytology
  • Vulva / growth & development


  • Glycoproteins
  • Helminth Proteins
  • Membrane Proteins

Associated data

  • GENBANK/AF480492
  • GENBANK/AF480493